FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Window Shopping

It was almost a ritual.  Sunday School followed by morning worship that lasted most of the day (so I never understood why they called it morning worship) then home to a dinner that my mom had actually prepared just after breakfast, a nap for dad and then a short drive into town just as the sun was setting to go window shopping!

Those of you under the age of 50 probably have never heard of window shopping – looking at the goods displayed in shop windows, especially without intending to buy anything. If you have heard of it, your probably can’t understand it. Well, think of it like shopping online. You put a lot of stuff into your cart, but you never check out! Researchers (yes, someone actually studied window shopping) say that there are great benefits from window shopping – exercise, relieved stress and raised aspirations are just a few, not to mention you save money!

For us, it was a great family time. It was almost a kind of “date night” for mom and dad as they walked along whispering to each other, gazing into the windows of the furniture store, reminiscing about old times and making plans for their future – and ours. For my sister and I, it was a time of dreaming. Our favorite window gave a gaze into the local 5 and dime. As we grew, our interests shifted to the clothing stores. Sometimes we would stop for ice cream and enjoy our cones and sandwiches as we walked, talked and “shopped,” our imaginations running wild.

That’s what window shopping is really about – letting your imagination run wild. You imagine all the things that you could have, the life you could live. Imagination can be a good thing. And not. Especially when it comes to living the Christian life. We were not meant to live a life of imagining what could be, what we might have. John 10:10 teaches us that Christ came that we might have an abundant life, here and in the hereafter.

When you window shop you never go into the store, you never try on the goods, you don’t even get to touch them. You simply watch from a distance, separated by that pane of glass and separated from the joy of touching, holding, knowing, having. When we window shop God’s word, we read of all that He has promised – rest, power, strength, peace, victory, life eternal! (Matthew 11:28-29; Isaiah 40:29-31, Proverbs 1:33; John 14:27, Romans 8:37-39), but we separate ourselves from possessing these gifts and knowing the full joy of them. Just as we cannot really imagine owning some of the possessions behind the glass of the store windows, we tell ourselves that we cannot really receive God’s blessings. For certain, we don’t deserve His love.

We look with our human eyes and think with our human thoughts, so it is difficult for us to comprehend. God does not love us because we are lovable or because we deserve His love. Our hearts are innately deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We are evil and we do evil (Romans 3:10-12). But it is not just God’s nature to love; He is love, true love, not the sappy movies and Valentine’s Day kind of love but agape love, love that sacrifices, and He chooses to lavish His love on those who need it the most, those who least deserve it, those who rebel even against Him (1 John 4:10; John 6:44; Romans 5:8).

Unlike the cold panes of glass that separate us from the stores’ goods, God invites us to come – come drink, come eat, come live (Isaiah 55:1-2). Don’t let Satan trick you into thinking you are unworthy. He will have you forever on the outside looking in, nose pressed against the glass, desiring what you think is beyond you. Come. Come into God’s covenant. Come into His love (Isaiah 55:1-3).


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When God Says, “No!

When God says, “No,” just say, “Thank you!”

First, we know that God loves us (1 John 4:8 ESV).  He showed His love for us even when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8 ESV) by sending His only son, Jesus, to be a propitiation for our sins and to die on a cross that we might have eternal life (1 John 4:10; John 3:16 ESV).  His word tells us that absolutely nothing, no one and no experience can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39 ESV).

And precisely because He loves us, He sometimes answers ‘No’ to what we request in our prayers.  That’s what loving parents do.  They say, “No” to a diet of only soda and ice cream.  They say, “No” to hanging out all night.  They say, “No” to pornographic and vulgar television and violent video games.  They say, “No” to wrong friends and bad habits.  I feel certain that my parents were not the only ones reminding children that they had already had certain experiences, that they were older and wiser and that they knew best.  Matthew teaches us that if sinful parents know how to give good gifts to their children, then even more so the heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children (7:11 NLT).  Our all knowing and all wise God (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 3:20; Psalm 147:5 ESV) loves us and knows what is best for us — far more than we ever could. We also know that He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think or even, in our wildest dreams, imagine (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).

So – when God says, “No,” thank Him.  He saved you from less than His best!

Seriously!

Romans 8:32 (NLT) says, “Since he did not spare even His own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”  What can even compare to the sacrifice of His Son?  The answer would be, “Nothing!

Sometimes when our earthly parents answered, “No,” we stamped our feet, pouted, rolled our eyes and had full blown hissy fits.  We begged, we pleaded, we made our case for why we ought to have what we asked for.  As adults, but especially as children of God, we should be sensitive to our Father’s answers and stop insisting on something that God has already refused to grant. God has not promised to answer every prayer with “Yes.” The Scriptures teach us that if we pray according to His will, He hears us and we can know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15 ESV). They may come in His timing rather than ours and they may not look like what we imagined, but He will answer.

And His answer will be His best for our best.

Thank you, God!

THIS WEEK thank God for loving you enough to answer, “No.”  Determine to not only be accepting of His answer but also grateful for His love which always answers best.